Monday, October 14, 2013

Review: The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

At the conclusion of The Mark of Athena, Annabeth and Percy tumble into a pit leading straight to the Underworld. The other five demigods have to put aside their grief and follow Percy’s instructions to find the mortal side of the Doors of Death. If they can fight their way through the Gaea’s forces, and Percy and Annabeth can survive the House of Hades, then the Seven will be able to seal the Doors both sides and prevent the giants from raising Gaea. But, Leo wonders, if the Doors are sealed, how will Percy and Annabeth be able to escape?

They have no choice. If the demigods don’t succeed, Gaea’s armies will never die. They have no time. In about a month, the Romans will march on Camp Half-Blood. The stakes are higher than ever in this adventure that dives into the depths of Tartarus.

Dear old Uncle Rick had set himself up for quite a task. With the end of Mark of Athena (if you haven’t read that, why are you reading this? There are series spoilers as there would be for any 9th book in a series… but no book spoilers!) being as epically epic as it was, it’s hard for anyone to follow it up, but Mr. Riordan did a damn good job. (PJ fans go ahhh!)

We basically leave right off where we finished last. Percabeth is falling into an endless pit, the other five and Nico di Angelo are off to meet them in hell and it’s all so cheery and hopeful. I was worried that Mr. Riordan was going to be nasty and not give us any scenes in Tartarus. No, no, he did worse, he gave us those scenes in Tartarus. Horrible, soul-crushing scenes. As one would expect in Tartarus, but to read it -- to read about my little babies of the last nine books going through that?! I die. I die a thousand times over. And half the book is that. At some point early on, whilst reading, I said to myself, “so, Percy and Annabeth are Sam and Frodo, walking through Mordor to destroy a door.” If you’re a nerd like me, then you know that by the end of the long journey, Sam and Frodo are at their end mentally and physically and guess who else is? That’s right. Our little darlings. Amazing that they still retain themselves, Annabeth and her total and complete badassery. Percy’s humor, if nothing else than to keep us and them from utter despair. And it’s Classic Percy humor. Crack a joke in the face of certain death.

The other half of the book is Jason, Nico, Piper, Leo, Frank and Hazel battling all the things on the land. Now while Percy and Annabeth are going through the darkest and most painful experiences, they’ve ever gone through, the land crew is going through a several amount of personal growth and in a much less destructive nature. Honestly, I can’t think of one of them that didn’t grow or change in some HUGE monumental way. When I say that, I really mean it. They each came into their own, some more than others. Hazel and Piper had their brilliant moments of being awesome, but I feel like the boys owned that maturity a little harder. Frank’s growth was straight-up impressive. I totally called it on that kid, yo. Jason’s was just kind of flooring. As much as I resisted loving that kid, I fully, fully admit it. Jason Grace is amazing. Leo... oh, Leo, honey, I didn’t think I’d see the day… I’m so proud of you! Nico (yeah, he’s not one of the seven, but I don’t give a flying harpy). Nico, there aren’t enough words for. I’ve loved Nico di Angelo since he was that small little boy shuffling Mythomagic cards in Westover Hall and you will never convince me that he is not one of the most finely crafted characters ever.

Now there’s something else that needs to be discussed. It’s of vital importance. Here starts my epic paragraph of vagueness. I would LOVE to sit here and tell you about THE MOST MONUMENTAL THING that happens in this book, but it would spoil that and you’re better off going in not knowing. But I HAVE TO mention it and just be cryptically vague. I do this for you. But if you’re really smart and shrewd, you might just figure it out anyway. Ladies. Gentlemen. Demigods. Rick Riordan has broken a boundary. It’s not some big shattering explosion that would make Coach Hedge proud, but small and legendary. In my humble opinion, it is something that has needed to happen and the fact that Rick has done it, makes it impossibly mighty. Not only did he do this, but also he did it in a NYT bestselling Middle Grade series. Legen -- wait for it -- dary. In The Heroes of Olympus series, Mr. Riordan has worked to achieve diversity in his characters, clearly to reflect his broad fan base; a Chinese Canadian (my personal favorite ethnicity), Native American, Creole and Hispanic. He's taken another step, and that's both as mind-blowing and as specific as I'm going to get. If you’ve read the book, you know what I’m talking about I’m sure.

In short, there was so much going on this book, it’s hard to keep any review short and sweet. We have our classic favorites being tortured in a thousand ways, being broken down from any of glory they could ever think they deserve. We have our new friends who have carved little homes in our hearts, shifting and changing and ultimately getting ready for the final BIG battle, the likes of which they’ve never faced. It’s a bittersweet accumulation of three massive novels and five more of backstory and it’s all about to explode. As a whole, The Heroes of Olympus series is like the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series on steroids and more teen. So if The Blood of Olympus (5th book title) is anything at all like The Last Olympian on steroids, they I’m going to pick out my burial plot now because, guys, ain’t any of us gonna survive it.

-Reviewed by Jennifer


  1. Ummm...I seriously think that all Riordan has bewitched all Percy Jackson fans into loving whatever he comes up with. I mean, I like Riordan, he seems to be a really nice guy, but really? Really, people? Not a one of you saw the obvious flaws and fallacies in House of Hades? Come ON!! Let me just list some of the problems in the story:

    1. Why was Poseidon not in the book? I mean, he throws a temper tantrum when Percy asks him to let Tyson fight in the first war, but when HIS FAVORITE SON IS THROWN INTO TARTARUS, he isn't even brought up once? Sure, he might be having problems with Neptune, but Dionysus has showed up! Heck, even Athena showed up to give Annabeth a quest!! We could at least have a bonus chapter in which Poseidon shows up to give Athena crap about that thing with Ariadne.

    2. NICO IS GAY???!!!! O.K., let's get one thing straight here. I am not against gay relationships. I think that it's okay for anyone to love each other sexually, even if they're of the same gender. However, the fact remains that Riordan did not develop Nico as a gay character. You can't just pop out of nowhere and say -- okay, now that gay marriage is being legalized in some states, I'm going to make one of my characters gay in order to gain the support of my fans. No! It. Does. Not. Work. Like. THAT! Just the fact that you think you can create that a relationship that simply, without even really developing the character in that way, shows how little respect you have for that kind of relationship. Just choose a different character if you're going to go down that route. I don't really care which character you choose, just as long as its not one that you've already developed as a straight character. (One of the Stoll brothers for example, I don't recall them being developed as straight characters.)

    3. I love Bob. Who doesn't? He's funny, he's nice, and he used to be a blood-thirsty Titan. Awesome!! But really? You just...say his name in a conversation and he comes to you? How does that work exactly? What happened when you were telling the story of how Iapetus became Bob to Annabeth? Was Bob temporarily deaf at the time and wasn't able to hear his name being said? I liked that Bob was in House of Hades, but I would've liked a better explanation for his appearance.

    4. What in the Nine Hells was up with the rest of the group's reaction when Percy and Annabeth came out of Tartarus? They were all broken up when they Percy and Annabeth fell into Tartarus, but when they pop out of nowhere in an elevator, it was just like, "Oh, you're back, now? Kill these monsters for us will you, and then we're back on the quest to defeat Gaea." No happy reunion, no tears of joy, no congratulations, no....nothing?? Very weird and disappointing.

    So, those were my four main problems with the book that I pretty much just flitted through. Honestly, I waited a year for this stinkin' thing to come out, and, it sucked!!!!! I would give this two stars, max.

  2. I feel that apart from No. 3, your complaints aren't really valid.

    1) The gods are afraid of Tartarus, no one would dare go down there, not even Hades, so I doubt he could send any support to them and also Athena wasn't exactly in her right mind when she showed up, maybe Poseidon doesn't want his son to see him in pain. The only time Poseidon could have shown up is at the end when they're out of Tartarus but we don't really get to see what happens when they get out.

    2) I can't remember a time where Nico has been stated as straight, it's only been theorized by Percy and Annabeth. He hasn't really shown any signs of being gay or straight because when we've seen him, we haven't been focused on his sexuality, we've been focused on his role and also he has helped Percy a lot, much more then we see him helping anyone else. Also, as we haven't seen any of his thoughts or heard any admittance to who he likes, we can't really say he's been seen as straight. He's a very secretive person and he comes from a time where homosexuality wasn't accepted, so it makes sense he can keep it under wraps. Also it adds onto the idea that he's an outcast, a child of death that everyone's uneasy around and the fact that he's gay (or bisexual, we can't actually rule that one out either) adds onto the idea of him being an outcast.

    3) I'll admit I don't know how Bob gets there either.

    4)This complaint doesn't make sense, they're in the middle of a battle they could easily lose, they can't exactly run up to them and congratulate them, they need to keep their guard up. Also, they know how they come up (as do we), they didn't come out of nowhere and one of the reasons they made the journey is to save them.They all need to fight or they could die. And also:

    "‘Dude.’ Jason gave Percy a bear hug. <- Reunion
    ‘Back from Tartarus!’ Leo whooped. ‘That’s my peeps!’ <- Congratulations
    Piper threw her arms around Annabeth and cried" <- Tears of joy

    Also, when they start the picnic they could talk then and reunite properly- just because you don't see it doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

    On another note, love the review (by Jennifer Dee), brilliant and quite funny!

  3. I completely love that Rick wrote in this part of Nico. I do think it was a bit sudden, but on the same token we don't know much about him, as stated he is so secretive. Now he's just more of my favorite because he has such a massive internal struggle.

  4. Introduced to the series by my son when in middle school, eagerly anticipated each new volume, and also own all the 'Kane' books myself. So yeah I've been a huge fan... UNTIL NOW. Really Riordan. Do we really need a politically charge topic in a middle school read? Why not a bit of profanity because that's the reality middle schooler experience everyday? Why is that less acceptable?! I for one could have done without a 'gay' Nico because it didn't seem to fit. But maybe I'm too conventional to think our 11 year olds need exposure like that!

  5. Ok, if you want to find out how Bob got there, read The Demigod Files by Rick Riordan. It explains everything

  6. best book ever thank you rick riodain sorry if i spelled your name wrong

  7. Why is being gay politically charged? Seriously? It's life. LIFE! Someone isn't gay to be political. Jeez!